(14/1. See 'Youatt on Cattle' pages 92, 69, 78, 88, 163; and 'Youatt on Sheep' page 325. Also Dr. Lucas 'L'Hered. Nat.' tome 2 page 310.) It has often been observed that breeds of animals inhabiting wild and mountainous countries cannot be permanently modified by our improved breeds; and as these latter are of modern origin, it has been thought that the greater antiquity of the wilder breeds has been the cause of their resistance to improvement by crossing; but it is more probably due to their structure and constitution being better adapted to the surrounding conditions. When plants are first subjected to culture, it has been found that, during several generations, they transmit their characters truly, that is, do not vary, and this has been attributed to ancient characters being strongly inherited: but it may with equal or greater probability be consequent on changed conditions of life requiring a long time for their cumulative action. Notwithstanding these considerations, it would perhaps be rash to deny that characters become more strongly fixed the longer they are transmitted; but I believe that the proposition resolves itself into this,--that characters of all kinds, whether new or old, tend to be inherited, and that those which have already withstood all counteracting influences and been truly transmitted, will, as a general rule, continue to withstand them, and consequently be faithfully inherited.


When individuals, belonging to the same family, but distinct enough to be recognised, or when two well-marked races, or two species, are crossed, the usual result, as stated in the previous chapter, is, that the offspring in the first generation are intermediate between their parents, or resemble one parent in one part and the other parent in another part. But this is by no means the invariable rule; for in many cases it is found that certain individuals, races, and species, are prepotent in transmitting their likeness. This subject has been ably discussed by Prosper Lucas (14/2. 'Hered. Nat.' tome 2 pages 112-120.), but is rendered extremely complex by the prepotency sometimes running equally in both sexes, and sometimes more strongly in one sex than in the other; it is likewise complicated by the presence of secondary sexual characters, which render the comparison of crossed breeds with their parents difficult.

It would appear that in certain families some one ancestor, and after him others in the same family, have had great power in transmitting their likeness through the male line; for we cannot otherwise understand how the same features should so often be transmitted after marriages with many females, as in the case of the Austrian Emperors; and so it was, according to Niebuhr, with the mental qualities of certain Roman families. (14/3. Sir H. Holland 'Chapters on Mental Physiology' 1852 page 234.) The famous bull Favourite is believed (14/4. 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1860 page 270.) to have had a prepotent influence on the shorthorn race. It has also been observed (14/5. Mr. N.H. Smith 'Observations on Breeding' quoted in 'Encyclop. of Rural Sports' page 278.) with English racehorses that certain mares have generally transmitted their own character, whilst other mares of equally pure blood have allowed the character of the sire to prevail. A famous black greyhound, Bedlamite, as I hear from Mr. C.M. Brown "invariably got all his puppies black, no matter what was the colour of the bitch;" but then Bedlamite "had a preponderance of black in his blood, both on the sire and dam side."

[The truth of the principle of prepotency comes out more clearly when distinct races are crossed. The improved Shorthorns, notwithstanding that the breed is comparatively modern, are generally acknowledged to possess great power in impressing their likeness on all other breeds; and it is chiefly in consequence of this power that they are so highly valued for exportation. (14/6. Quoted by Bronn 'Geshichte der Natur' b. 2 s. 170. See Sturm 'Ueber Racen' 1825 s.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 29

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Charles Darwin

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